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Category Archives: underpainting.

  In my last post I was talking about my earliest encounters with real artists who knew the value of earth tones. The other night when I should have been sleeping I was instead loitering about on Twitter. I’m in a process of amazed discovery as to what an astonishing resource that app is for artists. I came upon an artist called Murat  Kaboulov and opened his site (run by a relative as he sadly died in 2010). I was immediately not only entranced by his pictures but catapulted back in a kind of eureka moment to the unswept floor of a studio in Beaufort Street Chelsea where flakes of oil paint and toast crumbs stuck to my four year old knees as I played at my mother’s feet while she posed for a portrait.

  The beautifully presented website www.muratkaboulov.com even uses a version of the divine sludge colour as its background. But the paintings …what a joy to behold….take a look at these … I can’t show you a picture because they rightly have the images protected from download but here’s a screenshot you can click through on which I hope will entice you to visit and enjoy this inspirational work:

                                                       www.muratkaboulov.com/figurative
So in my dream painting Murat Kaboulov shall now be one of my guides. Each of those paintings is worth hours of study and each demonstrates masterfully how vivid colours need earth tones to work. In 60s psychedelic and pop art bright colours were allowed to stand alone but even then it was rare. A quick search of Google images for Peter Blake, that quintessential artist of the Kings Road era, revealed the use of the Divine Sludge time and time again. For just one example you might remember this piece for its bright colours but look carefully – it depends wholly on its earth colours for its impact:

I have painted pictures in the past, I’m proud of a few and not shy to sell them but I’ve hardly begun. I learn as I go, I try and look deeper, I know what I want to do. I’m going to have to live long I think.

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My desire to make pictures, even the digital ones, began firmly with a love of paint. My heart absolutely sang when I found this great blog post at one of my favourite Facebook ‘Likes’, Retronaut (highly recommended, one of the best little blue and white buttons I ever pushed). Feast your eyes on photographs of actual palettes of Seurat, Van Gogh, Renoir and Delacroix with images like these:

Seurat’s palette reveals clues to his technique as well as
use of colour
I have something in common with Gustave Moreau
at least, my palettes are as messy as this.

Colourlovers, another fascinating site for those who are intrigued by how great painters actually went about things uses colour analysis tools to explore the palettes of specific paintings. I really like the idea of being able to draw out a basic colourscheme from a painting that affects me visually. I think one of the greatest ways to learn anything is to look at things you admire and try and work out how they began. I went looking therefore for some tools to analyze palettes. I found several but  far and away the best one was this: http://www.cssdrive.com/imagepalette/index.php.
I chose my image Northern Lights because it has quite a broad spectrum of colours and fed it into the app and this was the result:

That site actually allows you to save the colour scheme as a CSS style sheet which means you can base the theme of a website or page on the colourscheme of an artwork or photograph you like. This app gives much much more colour information than the others I tried too. Give it a whirl, it’s loads of fun and the possibilities for artists and designers who want to get under the skin of what makes a particular image pop are endless.